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Nov 17, 2007
hello dear friends,

so here am i, on the road again!! Quite a long time i know, i was really graving it!  But this time, my trip is quite different from other times since i am staying in europe & i'm traveling with other people (1 human - laurent - & 2 non humans -gyzmo & nanny) & we're travelling in a camping car.
i'm sending you this because you're were already receiving my logs last year or because i thought you'd be interested in reading about my new adventures, but if you don't want to receive this, please let me know & i'll remove you from my list.
So we left paris on thursday morning & drove to "le lot". We stopped in "la loire", to see a few castles. It was a real delight to see all those old stones, all those gorgeous castles from the middle ages. On our way, we discovered this lovely gothic bridge, that was sunset, the light, beautiful, water, trees, some old stones... dreamy! We got to gerard & sylvie's house in le lot around 10pm. The next day we already started to explore the land. Mountains, rivers, a sky to make you fall. It's pretty cold up here since winter is here, but when the sun shines, it is quite delicious & still pretty warm.
So we're staying in one of the 2 houses of gerard & sylvie. We have a lovely room. It is great for me to be able to discover france, since i seem to know the us better then the country where i was born lol!
They have wonderful churches around here. i've able to picture so many wonderful places, people, lands.
Sunday night, as we were coming back from sylvie & gerard's store in st cyr la popy, we met a dog, she looked completely lost! She was jumping at everyone, begging for attention & love. It was impossible to leave her there. She had no tattoo, just a collar with nothing written on it. We took her at the vet the next day, she didn't have any electronic device either: a lost or abandoned dog!! We went to the cityhall to ask for help, like names or addresses of people who host dogs until they find a family. The vet did not have that. The woman at the cityhall was wonderful, she did all she could to find a place for her, or find out if she was lost or something. She called the police, but nothing about a lost dog... We eventually found out about a place for dogs, a place that doesn't kill the dogs after a week or so! This was the most important. This little puppy (about 1 year old) is such a lovely one! She is so very sweet, & ready to give so much love. The woman at the shelter told us she seems to have been beaten. We left her there, knowing that she'll be well taken care of.
That was quite a stressing morning, having to drive from one city to another. But once she was there, everything felt better!
On the 28th, we went to brantome, a village near perigueux, in corrèze, to have the van checked & find a few things necessary. It looks very lovely too, different landscapes & stones. So we got back to veziou late at night. On the way back, we took 2 hitch hikers for a few miles; they gave us some good tips about alternatives places in spain. We'll definitely have to check them out once we're there! On wednesday we visited some friends of gerard & sylvie: josé & vero. They live & work in a farm they all made with their hands. They grow organic fruit, make jam & purée. They live in a house with no water or electricity, using nothing but what comes from the wild. They have electricity with solar panels & use water from the rain. They have acres of land, where they grow strawberries, blackberries, figs, rapsberries, apples, then some walnuts, hazelnuts.
It was really interesting to talk with them & find out about their lifestyle. They have been into thing for over 20 years & feel great about their lifestyle. They fight capitalism, & are deep into environmental progressions. They do their best to respect the wild & promote this lifestyle.
On the 1st of november, we found out how the countryside -& even the big cities there- are completely closed. We hadn't realized the 1st is a day off, until we started searching for food! We were in cahors (where they make a famous wine) & were looking for a healthfood store... we found some... but all closed! Even the vegetarian restaurant there was closed. So we decided to go to an omnivorous restaurant & ask for a raw fruitarian diner! The waitress looked at us weird first, but then, as we were asking for more & more unusual food, she started smiling & got really nice. We had a nice dinner, not much, & not organic, but at least we had a good time. It was the first time in year that i was eating in a restaurant! Funny.
The next day, we left to "la lozère" to visit marvejols & "les gorges du tarn". It was nice to go there, since i visited this place when i was young, but couldn't remember much. We walked around the city, then got out to go on the road of the famous story of the wolf of the gevaudan. A myth, based on the murder of several people, & the story was that the killer was a wold. There is now a park with wolves, "half free". It is quite sad to see them all, locked up in a huge cage, with all those tourists walking around. We did not get inside since you have to pay for that, but we found a few spots where we could see them. It really made us sad.
We slept in "les gorges de l'enfer", we found a small country road were we stopped. The woke up early the next morning to drive through les gorges du tarn". It was very very cold, most places were quite frozen. We saw some neat castles, nanny didn't get a chance to swim (she's been swimming almost every day since we left!) because it was really way too cold. But the 2 dogs both enjoyed an other nice walk in the mountains. They ran & had fun. We found some beautiful castles, churches, old houses, ect. On the way back on the 4th, we stopped in conques, an other old city, but famous for all its old houses. It looked like a fairy tail story. The church there is awesome!
i have to say france constructions are gorgeous! My love for old stones is completely fulfilled here!
Back in "le lot" we still visited some beautiful villages, saw other gorgeous landscapes. Then we started organizing the van & built a dry toilet (sorry, i don't know the correct english word for that: it is a toilet that uses dry leaves or tiny pieces of wood to cover pee & poo). i also planted a hot pepper tree in a jar for a guy gave us one. She was in pretty bad shape, so i had to cut hir a bit, but i put dead leaves & ashes mixed in the soil & put hir in the sun inside the house. i hope s/he does well.
We spent most of our time in the aveyron. It is not far for gerard's house. We went to a city called villefranche en rouergue, trying to find a book that would be quite useful: "guide for environmental holidays", but were not very lucky. It seems impossible to find it. Anyway, we found a little bird there, dead, lying on the concrete. s/he was so pretty, but really looked desperate. i took hir dead body to bring hir in some wild areas so hir body could recycle in the soil & feed some plants.
We visited some organic farms also & local farmer markets. We talked with many people. It is quite interesting to discuss with rural people for their perspectives are more down to earth. More walks in the woods also. The dogs are having so much fun. They eat twice what they usually eat! Amazing to see nanny eating so much for she's usually far from being a glutton, but here, she enjoys food so much!! Vegan food of course
The weather here is still sunny, but pretty cold now. Below zero every morning, everything is frozen.
On the 9th, we went to figeac & got some addresses of farms you can visit. So we went to 2 of them. One with geese & the other with pigs & cows. Sincerely, the farm for foie gras was not as horrible as what people usually show; i mean, we saw the farmer force feeding the geese, & they were not badly treated, just overused to it. Like a dog used to stay home all day long. We even saw some 1 day old babies, you can see the pix here. Dark & not friendly at all, but all clean. The cruelty plan used by most animal welfare activist wouldn't work there. The adult geese are in huge fields, surrounded by green grass & trees. The farmers take care of the birds in an exploitative way, just like tools to earn money you  see, but they truely take care of the welfare of the birds. This doesn't take away the fact that birds are, in no way, meant to be treated as a resource, but concerning the wellbeing, there is absolutly nothing to say.
The next visit was not that nice though. The pig farm was dirty, the pigs really looked unhappy & scared. We saw babies, teens & adults. The 2 first being locked up in rooms, with a disgusting smell, the mother pig feeding the babies was in one of those tiny stalls, you know, those where they cannot fall down on the babies. The teens were many in a small room. The adults (over 200 kilos) were outside. i did not have the heart to photograph anything there. i did not really wanted to show what is already so well exhibited by others.
We got out of this place quite upset by the way non humans are considered. This is really annoying to see they are nothing but mere means to human ends. To please the tastebuds... weither they are in a nice or unpleasant spot.
The rest of the day was driving through the aveyron, finding some local food & what we needed to leave. We got a sleeping bag for laurent. The next 2 days were dedicated to organize the van, & we also searched for wifi connections, but the aveyron & le lot are some of the worse places to get that! So we didn't get any. We then left on the 12th. We got to albi, in "le tarn", where i knew a fruitarian guy. Unfortunately, he left on friday, to get back to dublin. So we didn't get the chance to meet. But he should be back in france next year... we'll see.
Albi is a nice little city. i got a chance to get a wifi connection but didn't have time enough to send this & download all the pix i want to share with you guys. Anyway, 2 days here were fun. We found a wine farm in andillac, all organic, the farmer is part of "Nature & Progres", an organic part that is not recognized by the AB thing. So you cannot find them in healthfood stores if they don't get the AB logo in addition. Anyway, the farmer is awesome & very much into recycling of rain water, dry toilet, ect. They also offer a free spot for campers to stay for a night or 2. We couldn't stay there though because he lives with a non human girl who cannot stand other girls, so nanny couldn't get out there. But the nice thing is that albi lets camping cars stay for a couple days. So we slept 2 nights just under the cathedral. How funny to stay for free when if you rent a hotel room in front of it, it'll cost you a minimum of 70 euros/ night! On the 13th, i had an early morning walk in the streets, i found some awesome images to make.
Driving through the country, we found a castle, i think the most beautiful one i've ever seen. Many might call it a ruin, but to me, it is the most amazing building i've ever seen! i would like to call it the castle in the clouds!
There is also an organic market on tuesday nights. We went there & saw the wine farmer again. But the market was really tiny & full of animal products. There was one veggy guy, but it was all about veggies, so no chance to find fruit except for pumpkins. When we got to one of the healthfood stores, it was the end of the day & they only had some real bad looking & tasting clementines... yukk!
Gyzmo escaped twice on that day, letting us wait for him for almost one hour.
Sleeping in the camping car is very hard for me because it is so cold at night. i freeze & wake up completely broken. The trip was to get to some warm spots, but it seems we're staying in cold weather... sigh... When the sun shines it's quite ok, but it doesn't shine at night! Early morning is very cold. 1°C on wednesday... it didn't get above 10 during the day.
On the 14th, we left albi. We first went to the healthfood store to get some food & found this huge one, with another shop next door that has environmental friendly products, not tested on non humans & also from the fair trade industry. They have hemp clothings, recycled paper of all kind, ect. We talked with the owner who told us albi is one of the greatest city in france for this kind of things. In this small city, you have about 8 healthfood stores, people really feel concerned about the environment there. There are also many tourists during the summer.
So we drove through "l'aude" on the road of the cathares; we found this beautiful little house in the middle of the black forest then stopped in carcassonne. We had dinner under the old city. Very beautiful lightning at night. We went out of the city to find a place to sleep, we first wanted to stop by a lake, but couldn't find it. So we drove some more & stopped in a small path where a tiny river was going. We woke up early & drove along the mediteranean coast. We stopped on a beach to let the dogs run. It was so windy!! It is the tramontane, the very strong wind in the south of france. i walked on the beach with the dogs & had a hard time going back to the van, i almost flew away lol!! But the air was delicious. Very strong smell of salt! By the end of the day, we were in perpignan, where we're staying now, in laurent's mother's apartment. The wind is blowing like crazy & it is very cold, but the sun shines. & if you find a place in the sun, it is delicious. Yesterday, on our way to the beach, we found an organic farmer: he uses bioenergy, i.e. he uses only home made compost, & the moon to plant. Following a specific calendar to plant. One day is for roots, another for fruit, ect. He is labelled under the "demeter" logo. We had a nice talk with him & found some info. We then went to a beach in St cyprien where we stayed about an hour. i pictured the sea like crazy, it was wonderful, the strength of the wind on the water, making wonderful waves. Then i sat in the sand, hidden in the sand, hidden from the wind. It was really nice. We then went to collioure & had a walk in the seaport. We then got to the tourism office & asked for some wild hot springs. We got the name of 3 not too far from here. We also got maps for castles. We stopped by some old stones & had a nap. The wind was still blowing so hard, we felt like being in a boat The dogs had some more running, they are so happy in the wild.
So here are the news for the past month... rough & nice sometimes.
i apologize for not replying your emails everyone, but it might take me sometime to deal with it all!!
i hope you're all doing well dear friends.

Lots of hugz to you guyz!

PS: i put links to all albums with the pix but here is the link for the whole gallery! Please do not hesitate to add comments, i always appreciate them.

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Posted: Nov 17, 2007 6:14am


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